Can you Identify the Poison Ivy Plant ?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by hjoseph7, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. This post is mostly for nature photographers, or those who like to shoot pictures of nature. The other day I was walking to the Grocery store when I decided to cut through an empty field filled with grass, plants and flowers. I had my camera with me so once in a while I stopped to take a picture.

    I'm usually wary of walking through fields, because of Ticks, but I had my thick jeans on that day so I wasn't too worried. Several hours later after I got home, I was relaxing watching TV, when my left hand started to itch. I figured I got bit by a mosquito, but I could not identify where the mosquito bit me ?

    Down here in Georgia they have these little black mosquitoes and once they bite you, its like your whole body starts to itch. Not sure if this is psychological or not ? The problem with this itch is that it started getting worse. First on my left hand, then on my right hand and even on my wrist. Soon I began to see welts building up on my fingers and my hands were beginning to burn. It got so bad that I had to pour cold water on my hands every 1/2 hour or so.

    That's when I realized that this was not just a mosquito bite, but something else ! I Googled "Poison Ivy" and sure enough I had all the symptoms. That night I had real trouble sleeping, because of the itching. When I woke up the next morning my hands were on fire.

    The next day, I went to Walmart and purchased some "Benedryl", and something called "Ivarest", but these did not help much. I also ordered something called "Tecnu Extreme" from Amazon, but this took about 4 days to get to my house. Once it got here I began using it 4 times a day. After about 2 days the swelling and itching were down ! Unfortunately this Tecnu cream removes all and I mean ALL the Oil in your hands ! Right now I'm using Aloe Vera gel to aid in the healing but my hands still look like the hands on an 85 year old.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  2. I must be one of the lucky ones immune to poison ivy/poison oak. It seems to be the dominate plant at Point Lobos and I never got an itch. I haven't been there in a few years and should probably stay out of that place going forward.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Not an immunity to test - a fellow at Scout Camp was "immune" and rubbed it on himself. Calamine Lotion boy there after. Thought I still had some along the driveway, apparently the herbicide last year was enough to take it down. Also watch out for Poison Oak and Poison Sumac - if you are out in the weeds much, these are also on the must know list. Worthwhile to search the internet for photos. If you wash thoroughly with soap and water shortly after exposure, effects are much diminished - you might even escape them entirely.
    Sanford likes this.
  4. I don't think anyone is so much "immune" to poison ivy and its ilk as they are just not yet sensitized to the oils. (LINK)
    Jon Eckman and Roger G like this.
  5. I certainly have the excessive hand washing part down.
  6. It generally happens all of us at some time or another. I'd like to say once done never forgotten, but this is not altogether true as the morphology of poison ivy is variable depending on whether it is ground cover or a bush. This can confuse us. If the rash is very bad then an anti inflammatory shot from the doctor helps. it can be very serious. Inhaling the fumes from burning poison ivy can be fatal. If you think you have touched it to bare skin make sure to wash the spot as soon as possible. You'll probably still get a rash but it won't be so bad. Also clothing exposed to it has to be washed or it will give you another rash next time you touch it.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Good point on the clothing, I'd forgot that even though it got me once.
  8. I don't remember touching any plants, so I think what happened is that I stepped on some Ivy leaves and when I took off my shoes when I got home, the oil got on my hands. I have since disposed of those shoes, they were old anyway, but I also had to wash my clothes/pants especially the pockets areas.
  9. poison oak big sur.jpg

    Not just at Point Lobos, but just about any hiking trail along the Big Sur coast has a lot poison oak. At least the trails at Point Lobos are wide enough that you can walk down the center and avoid the plant.

    Here is poison oak along one Big Sur hiking trail. I forget which one.
    Sanford likes this.
  10. Might be tough in this age of "social distancing", not to mention hiking while wearing the mask. BTW, B&H Photo is the place to purchase masks if you are so inclined.
  11. Poison ivy is usually found in forested areas. It is an ivy and tends to climb trees and shrubs, to the point can overhang trails. It also appears as a low shrub, generally in shaded areas near the treeline.

    An open field is more likely to have nettle or a variety of "itchweed."
  12. Here in Southern Cal we get Poison Oak. Supposedly washing it off soon after prevents a rash.
  13. I've always been sensitive and consequently I have a keen eye for poison ivy and oak and can spot it at 30 ft. It's amazing how the leaf appearance varies depending on the amount of sun the plant gets. The vine structure of poison ivy is something to recognize after the leaves are off. +1 on being wary of the oil lingering on clothing, dogs, snakes, etc. I have a bar of Fels Naptha brown laundry soap at every sink because it seems to remove the oil better than hand soaps. I've read recommendations to wash three times. Be thorough. Think COVID hand washing procedure X 3. There are creams to protect and remove the oil from your skin but soap and water are best. Of course, there are times when adequate wash water is not available - especially camping in northern California where poison oak grows to 10 ft tall in the forest evening gloom with a leaf form that is different from what is normally illustrated. I don't care to repeat that experience. Once the oil chemically burns your skin, there's nothing to do but deal with it as best you can. The various lotions and creams provide only minimal topical relief.
  14. I was always told to wash with cold water, as hot water opens the pores and lets it in.
  15. The stuff can be brutal, and I've found nothing that provides much relief. I generally dab rubbing alcohol on it to try to dry it out. Fortunately, I don't seem to be as susceptible to it as an adult as I was a child. As for identification, when I was in scouting, we were taught the little diddy "leaflets three, let it be."
  16. Yes we had that, too, but I found the reddish color easier to detect. (Though not quite reliable as one might hope.)

    Also, poison oak (more usual in the west) doesn't have thorns.
  17. Poison ivy doesn't have thorns either. If you are relying on a reddish color for identification, you will fail to identify a very large percentage of it. Once the plant is reasonably mature, the leaves are more often than not a dark green until fall.
  18. Poison ivy doesn't have thorns either. If you are relying on a reddish color for identification, you will fail to identify a lot of it. Once the plant is reasonably mature, the leaves are more often than not a dark green until fall.


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